Climbing up an active volcano: The sunrise trek of Mount Batur

sunrise view from the top of mount batur

You must think that we are crazy climbing up an active volcano, but truth be told, that extra spike of danger was the secret ingredient that turned a simple hike into a thrilling experience.

At 1717m lies the active volcano of Mount Batur in Bali, Indonesia. This sacred mountain has known several eruptions with the last one recorded in 2000. With these facts in mind, we were eager to undertake this adventure especially now, after a long relaxing week in Gili Air Island.

Early morning hike

We sacrificed our sleep to take on the sunrise trek of Mount Batur. We left Seminyak at around 1:30AM and got to the base camp of the volcano around 4:00AM. We were told that we would be greeted by a group of touts who would shower us with climbing package deals: just like everywhere else in Bali. The right thing to do here is to head directly to the desk of the official association of Mount Batur guides.

Hiring a guide

You can skip hiring a guide since the trail, even in pitch-black conditions, can be completed just by following the flashlights of all the trekkers snaking up the steep slope of the volcano.  However, especially for inexperienced hikers, a guide is
highly recommended. We heard about several accidents, some of which had proven fatal.

trekking guide in mount batur

An unforgettable sunrise

The way up was a non-stop 2 hours steep and sweaty hike, and we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunrises in the world. A dusky sky with changing colors emerging from the dark blue and getting clearer by the minute as the sun became visible between the thin cloudy lines. We put our jackets on to cover up against the morning breeze.

traveller sitting on the top of mount batur

Beware of monkeys

The first ray of sunlight was complemented with naughty macaque monkeys who jumped straight away to snatch our snacks. We tried to be as cautious as possible holding on tightly to our tiny bread buns and bananas, but the sly little mammals were faster and ironically smarter.

Macaque monkey eating

Off the beaten track

After witnessing the birth of a new day, we continued our hike around the big crater of the volcano, examining the sulfuric hot fumes, and simply enjoying our time. We never miss the opportunity to practice headstands even in the most unconventional places.

yogi in headstand posture on the top of mount batur

 

At that time, most hikers take their way back down. But since we became really good friends with our guide, he suggested taking us off the beaten track to go visit the small crater of mount Batur. This extra promenade was highlighted with secluded spot where we got to cook eggs and bananas, using the volcanic ground heat, along with an astonishing meditative view of the valley below.

traveller with a guide in mount batur

From there, you can’t help but notice the black frozen lava that left the eastern surrounding area of the volcano without any trace of civilization. The lucky temple survived this natural disaster and you can spot it lying on the only green spot in sight.

traveller enjoying the top view of mount batur

 

It isn’t over…

The way back down was surprisingly harder than the way up. The slippery rocks mixed with volcanic black sand, making the descent very challenging: it required a great deal of balance and strength. Reaching flat lands, we took a final walk between large fields of coffee and chili plantation before it started raining heavily, which
washed away the fatigue of an awesome hike.

Useful info

– Best time to go?

During the dry season is the best time to go. The rain and fog during the wet season can be quiet annoying. You’ll miss the sunrise and the hike will become a blind walk.

Chose to take the sunrise trek even if you have to start hiking by 4:00AM in the morning. The sunrise view is completely worth it.

– How to get there?

Many organized tours are available for the Mount Batur sunrise trek but it is highly advisable to get there on your own via bus, taxi or your own transportation (scooter or car). Many tour operators

– How long does it take to get there?

2 hours drive from Ngurah Rai International airport.

– Where to stay?

Many accommodations are available around lake Batur and can serve as a departure point for your hikes.

– Other activities?

  • Visit the steamy bath in Batur natural hot springs and enjoy a relaxing.
  • Do the sunrise trek of Mount Agung, which will take you up to 2 days to finish.

Hike report

hiker climbing rocks in mount batur

Hike Length

It will take you 2 hours to climb the mountain, around 1 hour to walk around the craters and a 2hour steep decent. So a total of around 5hours.

Hike Cost

The cost of the hike along with the breakfast is negotiable as so many packages are available. We suggest researching before hand and getting a fair price. 15$/person is quite a reasonable price for this hike.

Hike guidlines

Keep yourself hydrated and take short breaks as you climb up the
summit. This should be an enjoyable trek and not a fitness challenge.    

Hike Checklist

Clothing

  • Hiking shoes
  • Small towel
  • T-shirts (x2)
  • Hiking pants
  • Socks
  • Buff
  • Shades

Electronics

  • Camera: Canon 700D
  • I-phone 6 with Lifeproof cover

Snacks

  • 1L Bottle of water
  • Volcano breakfast: raw eggs and bananas and bread)

Final assessment

Witnessing the sunrise as it unfolded the changing colors of the skies, the valley below and the majestic view of Mount Agung.
The steamy breakfast cooked within the heat of the escaping volcanic fumes.
The extra promenade around the small crater and the isolated spot.

 The scams and strategies attempted by locals to make you buy a hike package.
✗ The cheeky monkeys (I still want my banana back)

Overall…

Climbing the top of a volcano is not something you do everyday especially when the giant monster can erupt in any second. At least that’s what our guide told us. So, for all you adventure junkies out there looking for a challenging hike with a considerable danger factor, the sunrise trek of Mount Batur is not to be missed.

playing with volcanic fumes in mount batur

I got your backpack

Beatrice and Elie the Lebanese couple who decided to quit their desk jobs and pursue a life on the road. Extreme sports lovers, yoga practitioners, life philosophers, and adventure hunters, they hope to inspire and motivate people throughout their travel stories.

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